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UCLA Sports

UCLA won’t give up on linebacker who’s decommitted from 2020 class

UCLA head coach Chip Kelly watches action on the sidelines during a game at the Rose Bowl.
UCLA head coach Chip Kelly watches action on the sidelines during a game at the Rose Bowl.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA suffered a defection from its 2020 recruiting class this week when linebacker Myles Jackson announced he was no longer committed to the school.

That doesn’t mean the Bruins are necessarily saying goodbye to Jackson.

UCLA coach Chip Kelly said he engaged recruits in a dialogue about the reasons they were looking elsewhere and whether they still wanted the school to pursue them.

“There’s no hard or fast ‘This equals this,’ ” Kelly said. “It’s always about the individual relationships that the coaching staff has with the player and the [high school] coach and the family, and how do you want recruiting to be like?”

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Jackson, who attends Mill Creek High in Hoschton, Ga., provided no specifics for his decision on Twitter.

“I still love the coaching staff and the wonderful campus,” Jackson wrote. “However, circumstances unfortunately change and after much thought, consideration, and conversations with family, I have decided to decommit from UCLA and officially reopen my recruitment.”

Jackson’s change of heart leaves the Bruins with 10 players committed in a class that 247Sports currently ranks No. 76 nationally and No. 10 in the Pac-12 Conference.

‘A special place’

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One absence will weigh heavily on UCLA linebacker Josh Woods when the Bruins (0-3) face No. 19 Washington State (3-0) in Pullman, Wash., on Saturday night in both teams’ conference opener.

It will be of the onetime high school teammate whose suicide in January 2018 prompted Woods to wear a “Hilinski’s Hope” wristband as a tribute. Tyler Hilinski and Woods both attended Upland High before going their separate ways, Hilinski heading for Washington State and Woods for UCLA.

Hilinski played a significant role for the Cougars in 2017, relieving starting quarterback Luke Falk against Boise State and helping his team overcome a 21-point deficit before winning in triple overtime.

Woods and Hilinski had taken their official visits to Washington State at the same time.

“Pullman will always have a special place in my heart because of Tyler,” Woods said.

National college football writer J. Brady McCollough predicts who’s going to win selected games in Week 4. He doesn’t like the chances for USC and UCLA.

See you Saturday?

Linebacker Keisean Lucier-South has a strong ally in his bid to make his season debut against the Cougars after sitting out the first three games because of an academic suspension.

It’s Woods, who said his teammate appeared ready to play. “Explosive. Hungry,” Woods said when asked how Lucier-South looked after returning to practice this week. “Really hungry, like you could tell he missed the game and he’s wanted to be out here since Day 1.”

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Kelly said Lucier-South’s availability would be based on several factors, including his conditioning.

Etc.

Kelly said his team was not playing at a faster tempo because of its youth and lack of depth. “At Oregon we could probably play nine, 10 receivers and roll them and there wasn’t a lot of difference between one and nine,” Kelly said. “You want to play fast, well if we play fast, do we have enough depth to play fast?” … The availability of receiver Theo Howard, safety Quentin Lake and guard Michael Alves for the game against Washington State remained uncertain after they were not seen on the field Wednesday during the portion of practice open to reporters. Kelly did not address their status when he met with the media.


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